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Ho Chi Minh City
Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The “Covid-19 mutual fund” at our company

By Dang Quynh Giang

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A friend in need is a friend indeed, says a proverb. As our company was one in the center of the pandemic, in the “red zone” indeed, we fully understand the difficulties confronted by enterprises in the same boat. As workers and also managers, we are happy because our company has done all it could to support our members.

For every two or three days, an employee of our company who was at home was contacted by an HR department member who represented the company. The conversation was about the health of the member and his/her relatives in the family, their vaccination, food supplies, difficulties and possible assistance, if any. At the same time, the caller never forgot to share the situation of the pandemic in the area, and reminded the receiver of the absolute observation of the 5K principle when at home.

This routine has been followed since more than two months ago, when some of our members had to stay at home due to lockdowns, and then the company had to come to a complete halt because of the emergence of infections during the practice of the “three-on-the-spot” (eat, work and rest on the same spot) regulation. As the company is run by 2,000 people, each day at least 700 calls had to be made, one after another.

What was got from all the calls was gathered, staticized, analyzed and reported to the management board and managers so that they could know more about their colleagues. More importantly, as explained by the general director, during the embarrassing, critical, and dangerous moments, the company’s management wanted to send out a clear message that it was paying great attention to the work force and would do anything possible to support those in dilemma. In addition, reminders that all members had to be prudent to minimize risks and avoid infection made great sense.

Two weeks ago, although the company’s financial health had become weaker due to lukewarm operation during a long time with huge additional costs incurred from the “three-on-the-spot” rules, the management board decided to set up a fund worth VND1 billion, which it named “Covid-19 Mutual Fund,” to assist employees and their families in difficulty.

Criteria for being covered by the fund were discussed and the subsequent lists were compiled. The assistance was offered to every case immediately afterward. There were four levels of assistance in accordance with differences in criteria and circumstances. Recipients were mostly migrant workers to the city, those who had low salaries or earned much lower income in recent months, those who were infected and had several dependents, or whose relatives had contracted the coronavirus, or those faced other sheer difficulties.

HR personnel were next tasked with calling every case that met the above criteria to verify their situation and their needs. If an employee was in need of cash, the amount was transferred right away to his/her bank account. In case food was needed, arrangements were made so that some members could buy food and deliver it to the needy person. The lockdown then was further tightened and nobody was allowed to move around. Fortunately, the fleet of our 16-seat vans was still licensed. Therefore, we were able to buy food at supermarkets and deliver it to sites of local authorities so that food could be distributed to our colleagues in the quarter. If this way did not work, HR personnel made phone calls to hotlines of the responsible to explain what the situation was and seek help. In some cases, we ordered goods online or instructed our colleagues to do it themselves.

Three days later, almost 400 of our members had received company assistance and two-thirds of the fund was used up. After being reported, the general director ordered that the “Covid-19 Mutual Fund” have to be used up, and more money could be allocated if necessary because he believed there were still employees and their families that needed assistance in this ordeal.

Prior to that time, when our company was working under the “three-on-the-spot” conditions, we set up an outside team that could support us. The team consisted of members who were because of different reasons could not stay in the company to work. The members of this team, who were paid to do their jobs, were to support families and relatives of the employees who were working in the company’s premises. The assistance might be in the form of fixing a malfunctioning power line or water piping, buying food or medicine for them or helping in hospitalization. This effort was extended to help members working in the company’s premises feel assured about their families at home.

We employees are quite aware that our company cannot be lucrative in this dilemma. However, it is true that during the past recent months, in addition to trying the best to maintain production, the company’s management has thought of every way possible to support members making use of all means currently available. This spirit has been shared among managers of all levels. Our general director has pointed out clearly that a company should be one that knows thoroughly the circumstances of its personnel and is one that can assist the latter in the quickest and most practical ways. A company should assume such a responsibility instead of waiting for assistance from the State, he said.

A friend in need is a friend indeed, says a proverb. As our company was one in the center of the pandemic, in the “red zone” indeed, we fully understand the difficulties confronted by enterprises in the same boat. As workers and also managers, we are happy because our company has done its utmost to support our colleagues. We strongly believe that when the pandemic is over, the rate of colleagues who return to work and remain faithful to the company will be high.

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